The Northside Independent School District in San Antonio is launching a new program to track students. The student ID cards will habe RFID chips in them.
“It’s for the children!” Thar’s the way to sell the reduction of privacy to the public.
This is a test. It is is accepted, it will be applied to 100,000 students.
In an era of school budget cutting, why this? Why now?
The district plans to spend $525,065 to implement the pilot program and $136,005 per year to run it, but it will more than pay for itself, predicted Steve Bassett, Northside’s assistant superintendent for budget and finance. If successful, Northside would get $1.7 million next year from both higher attendance and Medicaid reimbursements for busing special education students, he said.
These Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID) tags will be used to locate students. It will also allow schools to count them. This lets the district bill the state for funding.
Will truant officers get access? What do you think? But the word “truancy” was not in the district’s press release.
The school board unanimously approved the program late Tuesday but, in a rarity for Northside trustees, they hotly debated it first, with some questioning it on privacy grounds.
State officials and national school safety experts said the technology was introduced in the past decade but has not been widely adopted. Northside’s deputy superintendent of administration, Brian Woods, who will take over as superintendent in July, defended the use of RFID chips at Tuesday’s meeting, comparing it to security cameras. He stressed that the program is only a pilot and not permanent.
It is just a test, you say. It’s not permanent. Not yet.
Initially, the readers will be limited to school property. That will calm (and delay) civil rights lawyers.
The cards cost $15. Students must pay if they lose theirs.
This is cheap technology. It will get cheaper.
Not all parents like the idea.
The American Civil Liberties Union fought the use of the technology in 2005 at a rural elementary school in California and helped get the program canceled, said Kirsten Bokenkamp, an ACLU spokeswoman in Texas. She said concerns about the tags include privacy and the risks of identity theft or kidnapping if somebody hacks into the system.
The decision to used these ID cards lies with local districts, state officials say.